Hill Top Coins owner Lee Roe in Marion says coin collecting can be a hobby or an investment
Lee Roe is pictured at Hill Top Coins in Marion on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Business owner Roe has decades of experience in the collectible coin business. (Rebecca F. Miller / The Gazette)
Obsolete banknotes from the 1830s-1860s can be seen at Hill Top Coins in Marion on Thursday, April 29, 2021. The banknotes are unique for their designs depicting common farm animals. (Rebecca F. Miller / The Gazette)
US Eagle gold coins (left) and Australian gold coins are sold at Hill Top Coins in Marion on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Company owner Lee Roe has decades of experience in trading in collector’s items. (Rebecca F. Miller / The Gazette)
A Chinese gold panda coin is sold at Hill Top Coins in Marion on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Company owner Lee Roe has decades of experience in the collectible coin business. (Rebecca F. Miller / The Gazette)
A baseball-shaped silver dollar coin is sold at Hill Top Coins in Marion on Thursday, April 29, 2021. The coin features a unique curved design, giving it a three-dimensional effect. (Rebecca F. Miller / The Gazette)
In a digital world filled with credit cards, electronic payments, and direct deposits, you can go days without handling real money. But for collectors and enthusiasts the world over, there is no substitute for hard cash – coins, to be exact.
Lee Roe is the owner and operator of Hill Top Coins in Marion. He’s been in the business for 21 years, but his interest in coins started when he was young.
“I loved doing it with my dad,” he says. “These are my best memories of collecting coins and trading coins. It was in the late 1970s when the money boom was unfolding. Then when I got out of high school, I went into the military and spent some time building.
“I was cleaning a closet one day when I found my old coin collection and decided I could go back. “
Proceed to today where Roe and his wife, Marcella, buy and sell coins at their Marion store.
“There are two sides to the business,” Roe said. “One is that we help people with estates who wish to liquidate a collection. The other side of the business is that we have rare parts for sale.
Her clients are of various ages and backgrounds. The hobby, he said, is more universal than most people realize.
“It’s probably the # 1 hobby for collecting in the United States,” Roe said. “One of the perks of collecting coins that nobody realizes is that everyone does. You go to work every week to earn a salary and you collect currency – everyone does at some level. “
Coin collectors in this area, Roe said, typically look for one of three things when collecting coins.
“For a collector who wants to complete a collection, he usually tries to find pieces by date, mintmark and type,” said Roe. “What someone chooses to collect is strictly up to them and their interests.”
Some of the popular American coins sought after by collectors are State Quarters and New Dollar Coins.
“In our store we have everything from rare US coins to wheat pennies,” he said. “We have something for everyone. “
The hobby also has international aspects.
“In the United States, collectors collect by date. They want one every year, ”Roe said. “In other countries, they collect by type. They might not care about the year of manufacture, they just want to have an example of this type of part.
Another distinguishing feature is mint marks. The current mint marks on US parts are P, D, S, and W for parts made at US Mints in Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point.
While coin collecting may just be a hobby, others see it as an investment.
“The coin business is getting a bit hazy because collecting coins as a hobby is totally different from collecting coins as an investment,” said Roe. “Investment grade coins typically start at around $ 1,000. Meanwhile, coin collectors can collect the State Quarters they get from a bank. They both collect technically, but one collects on a very different level.
This is where experts like Roe come in – helping with the buying and selling of coins and also assessing a coin’s value.
“We usually get two to five calls a day,” he said. “They might not want to sell their parts, but just want an appraisal. Often times we also get calls from banks or lawyers and families of someone who has an estate to screen. “
For its part, Roe’s coin collection has evolved over the years.
“It started as a collection and grew into a business,” he said. “Now I collect a lot more coin related stuff – like coin art – but there’s not a lot of value in there. My investment grade thing is the business itself – silver and gold.
He owns a particularly expensive coin – his father’s 1889 CC Morgan Silver Dollar.
Roe has a few tips that apply to coin collecting, both as a hobby and as an investment.
“Do your research before you buy a part,” he said. “The old adage is ‘Buy the book before the play.’ And it really is. You want to know what you are getting before you buy it.
Get to know a qualified parts dealer, he advised.
Coins can be expensive, he said, “and you should really see them in your hand and have a relationship with the person you’re dealing with. Probably at some point you might want to sell what you bought, and having that relationship with a dealer would be a good place to start liquidating your collections.